Blessings for the New Year

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The New Year offers us an opportunity to make a clean start on developing new life habits and even leave some behind us. Be sure to start your new year with an extra boost of good fortune by enjoying a meal sure to promise good blessings. The traditional foods in the South relating to good fortune are beans, greens and pork.

Greens, any greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune.

Beans, any legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seed like appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind.

Pork, the custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving.

Corn, the golden yellow color of corn resembles gold nuggets and invites good fortune!

Grapes, in Spanish culture, eating 12 grapes at midnight will predict the year ahead, if all of the grapes a sweet and not sour, all your months will be sweet, if there are some sour ones, those months could be not so sweet.

Pomegranates, in Turkey at New Year’s Eve, these fruit are considered eaten because the round shape of the sweet seeds resembles coins and therefore prosperity. Secondly, the red color of the fruit is believed to symbolize a healthy heart as well as the promise of fertility for the person eating it.

Be sure to ring in the New Year with much bounty and progress by including these foods in your New Year’s Day menu!

Crock Pot Collard Greens and Black-eyed Peas

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 2 pounds collard greens
  • 8 ounces bacon or ham, diced
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Fill the sink with cold water. Wash the collard greens in 3 to 4 changes of water, until there is absolutely no grit on the bottom of the sink. Cut thick stems out of the greens and chop the leaves or cut them crosswise into strips.
  2. If using bacon, cook it until cooked but not crisp in a large skillet. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and cook until soft.
  3. Combine the beans, bacon, onions, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in the slow cooker. The liquid should cover the top of the beans.
  4. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 hours.
  5. Open the lid and add the greens. Return the lid and cook for one more hour.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

Serves 6, each serving contains Calories 369, Fat 17 g., Carbohydrates 31 g., Protein 27 g.

Skillet Cheesy Cornbread

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (regular or buttermilk)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn (frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Place ¼ cup butter in cast iron skillet and heat on medium until the butter is melted and starting to bubble.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
    Mix in the egg, milk and oil until well combined. (I use a whisk while mixing the wet ingredients into the dry.) Fold in the corn kernels and grated cheese.
  4. Pour the batter into the hot iron skillet with the melted butter. Spread the batter evenly on the pan.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Stick a toothpick in the center to ensure it comes out clean.

Serves 8.

Sweet Grape Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds white seedless grapes
  • 2 pounds red seedless grapes
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Wash and stem grapes. Set aside.
  2. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, white sugar and vanilla by hand until blended.
  3. Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving bowl.
  4. For topping: Combine brown sugar, and crushed pecans. Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely.
  5. Chill overnight.

Simple Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bites

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups pomegranate seeds
  • 5¼ ounces high quality dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Across 12 muffin cups, sprinkle a single layer of pomegranate seeds.
  2. Add the melted dark chocolate to a piping bag or plastic bag. Snip off the end, so a small stream of chocolate can come out. Pipe a crisscross pattern of chocolate across the pomegranate seeds.
  3. Add another layer of pomegranate seeds, then more chocolate, and then the last layer of pomegranate seeds.
  4. Finish with a pinch of sea salt on each of the pomegranate chocolate bites.
  5. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. After removing from the fridge, serve immediately.

Serves 12, each serving contains Calories 92, Fat 5 g., Carbohydrates 13 g., Protein 1 g.

Hot Black-eyed Pea Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½-1 tablespoon finely chopped pickled jalapenos
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup sour cream
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can seasoned black-eyed peas, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup shredded Mexican cheese or cheddar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a pan and add onion. Cook until soft.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to pan EXCEPT shredded cheese. Stir to evenly mix and remove from heat. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer dip to a greased cast iron skillet or baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.
  4. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until warm and cheese is melted.
    Serve with tortilla chips.

Southern Collard Green Dip

(Adapted from a Biscuits and Burlap recipe)

Ingredients

  • 15 ounces frozen, chopped collard greens
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • ½ can Rotel tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon pepper sauce or other hot sauce (optional)

Directions

  1. Cook collard greens in salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain and press between paper towels to dry, removing any stems.
  2. Sauté shallot and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir remaining ingredients together, adding the shallots and garlic and reserving about ¼ of the Monterey Jack cheese.
  4. Place in 8 inch iron skillet or small ovenproof baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake at 350ºF for 25-30 minutes. If desired, top brown under broiler, watching carefully.